The Scarlet Tanager is a medium-sized American songbird. Until recently placed in the Tanager family (Thraupidae), it and other members of its genus are now classified as belonging to the cardinal family (Cardinalidae). [Wikipedia]
Male Scarlet Tanagers are among the most blindingly gorgeous birds in an eastern forest in summer, with blood-red bodies set off by jet-black wings and tail. They’re also one of the most frustratingly hard to find as they stay high in the forest canopy singing rich, burry songs. The yellowish-green, dark-winged females can be even harder to spot until you key in on this bird’s chick-burr call note. In fall, males trade red feathers for yellow-green, and the birds take off for northern South America. [All About Birds]
Scarlet Tanager Facts [All About Birds]
- Scarlet Tanagers often play host to eggs of the Brown-headed Cowbird, particularly where the forest habitat has been fragmented. When a pair of tanagers notices a female cowbird approaching, they aggressively drive her away. If they don’t notice, the cowbird gets rid of a tanager egg and replaces it with one of her own. The tanagers apparently can’t tell the difference, either before or after the egg hatches, and they raise the impostor along with the rest of their brood.
- The female Scarlet Tanager sings a song similar to the male’s, but softer, shorter, and less harsh. She sings in answer to the male’s song and while she is gathering nesting material.
- The response of the Scarlet Tanager to habitat fragmentation varies from place to place. Results from the Cornell Lab’s Project Tanager indicate that in the heart of the species’ range in the Northeast, it can be found in small forest patches. In the Midwest, similar sized forest patches tend to have no tanagers.
- The oldest Scarlet Tanager on record was a male, and at least 11 years, 11 months old. He was banded in Pennsylvania in 1990 and found in Texas in 2001.